Rickie Fowler Reserves His Flash for the U.S. Open’s First Round

Having started his round just after 8 a.m. Pacific time, Fowler reached the halfway point of his round before 10:30 a.m. when a late arriving fandom had yet to fill the grandstands or line the fairways. But as Fowler birdied the first, second and third holes (his 10th, 11th and 12th holes played), larger crowds found Fowler on the golf course. They were treated to a show.

At the drivable par-4 sixth hole, he hit a long iron to 51 yards and then spun a wedge shot to within eight feet and sank that putt for birdie. On the par-5 eighth hole, his drive found the devilish barranca right of the fairway, but he rescued himself with a gutsy chip back into the fairway. “I tried not to overthink it and take too long with that recovery,” he said. His pitch to the green left a 13-foot left-to-right birdie putt that Fowler sank with aplomb.

A record low U.S. Open score was on the table with a closing-hole par, which Fowler also made look easy, despite having to sink a dicey final putt.

“This week is off to a good start,” he said moments later — nonchalantly, as if that were all his performance meant to him.

Later, he would reveal otherwise. Asked to characterize his journey from 173rd in the world to a record-setting round in the national championship, Fowler said: “It’s definitely been long and tough. A lot longer being in that situation than you’d ever want to. But it makes it so worth it having gone through that and being back where we are now.”

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